Some additional points came to mind today and, after seeing the volume of hits my last posting got, it seems several people are interested in what I have to say regarding this race. Maybe it’s because I was in the race and talked to/did opposition research on most of the other candidates. Or maybe it’s because I’m an astute political pundit. Ha! Ya gotta be kidding me! If that’s your reason, you’d do well to remember that I’m “just a factory worker.” ;D Anyway, here are a few more thoughts.
I really wish some of these Republican candidates would get their facts straight regarding the vulnerability of our freshman congressman, Tom Perriello. Yes, there was a recount. Yes, he was declared the winner by 727 votes. Those are the facts.
Now here are claims I’ve heard from some of the candidates for the Republican nomination to challenge him next year:
1) There were irregularities in the ballot counting process, suggesting some level of chicanery.
False. It was a recount. Ballots are routinely accepted or rejected, and that determination is NOT arbitrary. (Unless you’re running for Senate in Minnesota.) ;D
2) Perriello “rode Obama’s coattails” into office. And he won’t have that advantage next year.
False. John McCain won the 5th by almost 8 THOUSAND votes. (Talk about “irregularities.” Where do these candidates find their numbers?)
3) Tom has been Nancy Pelosi’s lapdog. The good people of the 5th won’t stand for that. We want someone who will vote the way WE want.
Okay. Again, false. Tom Perriello has voted the opposite of Nancy Pelosi on several issues so far, some VERY important to the Democrat leadership. Insert the word “close” into that phrase, and you’d have a point. On close votes where every vote was needed on the D side, yes, Perriello went with Pelosi a majority of the time. Last point on that topic, though: The only way to get a Congressman who votes the way you want them to on every single issue is to BE a Congressman.
This is not a democracy. It is a representative Republic. As such, it is our privilege (NOT “right”) to vote for the person who best represents our ideology. But, as our Founders intended, it is that Representative’s job to vote their conscience, not cave to poll numbers. That is why it is incumbent upon us to seek out people for these positions in Congress, and weigh their characters, convictions, and consciences, to be sure they have the integrity that we will, at the end of the day, demand of them. If we did not perform our due diligence, shame on US, not them. How can you demand integrity of a person, once elected, if you did not seek to promote the candidate with that integrity when you cast your ballot? Blindly casting a vote because of the letter after a person’s name leads to exactly this conundrum.
Okay, off my soapbox (sort of) and back to Perriello. If he is going to be defeated next November, the Republicans must come to terms with the REAL reasons why he won LAST November. I’m a factory worker, and I can figure it out, for crying out loud. So, here’s my list, in order of importance:
1) Voters were looking for change. (Hint: they still are.) Tom Perriello was a fresh face, not a career politician.
2) Virgil Goode ran a horrible campaign. Not sure if the fault lies with him or his campaign manager (but I’m willing to bet it was the latter). “New York lawyer” doesn’t scare as many people in the 5th as it used to. In fact, “good old boy whose family has been in state politics since the turn of the 20th century” was probably a bit more of a negative than a positive.
3) Finally, and to be quite blunt, Tom used the FairTax issue to beat the living crap out of Goode. Virgil should have been absolutely HAMMERING the FairTax message, through the entire campaign, so that the last-minute attack ads Tom ran (which utterly lied about the FairTax) wouldn’t have been believed by so many. In fact, Virgil mentioned the FairTax so seldom, many people didn’t even know he was a co-sponsor. That cost Virgil at least 500 votes and perhaps as many as 800. And those votes didn’t go to Perriello.
Let me explain that a little. In April of 2008, I stepped down from my position as Lynchburg Community Coordinator for Americans For Fair Taxation. Between April and November, I was the Project Manager for Operation: Bullhorn, an effort to get 6th District voters to write in “FairTax” on their ballots. The objective was to show Representative Goodlatte that many of his constituents support the FairTax and are willing to vote for IT over HIM. Unfortunately, since Goode over in the 5th did not make the FairTax an issue, many voters there also wrote in FairTax rather than casting a vote for Virgil OR Tom. Election officials threw out the write-in ballots that did not have a specific person’s name on them during the recount process, so it is unclear exactly how many FairTax votes were cast.
In the 6th District, however, I was in contact with every county registrar and FairTax write-ins totaled almost a thousand. Given those numbers, and the fact that I mainly promoted Operation: Bullhorn on WLNI (a radio station that broadcasts into wide patches of the 5th AND 6th, I don’t think it’s the least bit presumptuous to guess there were half as many (or more) in the 5th.
Sorry for the tangent, but this is important to keep in mind, given the current state of the economy, its continuing decline, and the economic boom the FairTax would bring about. Even if a candidate doesn’t endorse the FairTax specifically (even though Perriello can be absolutely ripped to shreds in debates on this issue), tax reform should be a platform plank, because it is a winning issue.
So, let’s bottom-line this thing: Virgil lost because he had a horribly-run campaign, he didn’t make the FairTax as big an issue as it should have been, in light of the economic factors, and because people wanted a fresh face, from outside of politics, that they thought they could trust to bring meaningful change. The fact that the 5th went for McCain is not a contradiction of these points, but a reaffirmation. Why? Because, however horribly McCain’s campaign was run, he did have some success in driving the “maverick” image home (and having Palin down-ticket helped immensely on that score).
The GOP in the 5th needs to learn these lessons well, BEFORE the convention next Spring, or they can expect a rude awakening next November when Perriello’s “vulnerability” disintegrates.